This past summer, the U.S. women’s soccer team won its fourth World Cup title, beating the Netherlands 2-0. As the athletes took to the field in celebration, the crowd began chanting in support of an even higher-stakes battle the team is waging: “Equal pay! Equal pay!”
In March, the women’s team filed a federal lawsuit against U.S. Soccer. The suit accuses the organization of discrimination for paying women less than male soccer players—despite equal work and more success. (In addition to four World Cup titles, the women’s team has won four Olympic gold medals; the men’s team has won none.)
Members of the women’s team are paid just 38 cents for every dollar their male peers earn. That’s a minimum annual salary of $16,500 for women, compared with about $50,000 for men.
For its part, U.S. Soccer claims the men’s team brings in more money, so its players deserve to be paid more. However, a recent investigation found that women’s soccer matches had higher ticket sales than men’s.
As this issue went to press, U.S. Soccer and the women’s team had agreed to try to settle the issue out of court. But the newly crowned world champions insist that they’re not giving up.
“The bottom line is simple,” says U.S. defender Becky Sauerbrunn. “It is wrong for us to be paid and valued less for our work because of our gender.”